The Taiwanese government have proposed a ban so-called gay conversion therapy
The harmful practice of attempting to make an LGBTI person straight.
The country has made great strides towards marriage equality in the last couple of months, and now the Ministry of Health and Welfare has published a draft regulation that would list the harmful “conversion” therapy as a prohibited treatment.
Focus Taiwan reported doctors caught performing it would face fines and up to a year’s suspension, according to the proposal which was first suggested in June by a Gender Equality Committee.
The ban could come into effect as early as March, after a 60-day public consultation on the draft, it was reported.
Shih Chung-liang, head of the Taiwanese ministry’s Department of Medical Affairs said: “Sexual orientation is not an illness.”
Peak counselling and psychotherapy bodies in the UK, US and Australia have condemned the therapies as unethical, unscientific and potentially dangerous.
Last month, Malta become the first country in Europe to ban “gay conversion” therapy, passing a bill that criminalised any attempts to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.”
Meanwhile, a vote on marriage equality legislation in Taiwan is expected in the first half of this year.
In early December, hundreds of thousands marched in Taipei in support of equality on International Human Rights Day.
(Photo via Twitter)
The Health Bureau of the Taichung City Government announced on 13 May 2016, that medical institutions in Taichung are prohibited from engaging in conversion therapy.
According to Shader Liu, a member of Taichung’s Gender Equality Committee, any group – medical, civil or religious – that practices the ‘treatment’ is violating the Physicians Act and the Psychologists Act. The committee made a request to the Ministry of Health and Welfare to make the new rule applicable nationwide, so as to eliminate the practice.
On 30 December 2016, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that it would draft an amendment to the Physicians Act to make conversion therapy prohibited. The Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry and human rights groups recommended that conversion therapy is banned. Members of the public had the opportunity to offer their opinions on the draft amendment for 60 days, after which the Ministry might issue regulations based on the draft. The regulations were expected to bypass Parliament in late January 2017 and take effect in March 2017. According to the Physicians Act, doctors who engage in prohibited treatments are subject to fines of between NT$100,000 (US$3,095) to NT$500,000 (US$15,850) and may be suspended for one month to one year. However, the proposed regulations were stalled by fierce resistance from anti-LGBT groups.
Instead of pushing ahead legal amendments or new regulations, on 22 February 2018, the Ministry of Health and Welfare issued a letter to all local health authorities on the matter, which effectively banned conversion therapy. In the letter, the Ministry states that sexual orientation conversion is not regarded as a legitimate healthcare practice and that any individual performing the so-called therapy is liable to prosecution under the Criminal Code or the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act, depending on the circumstances